RIC student selected for statewide entrepreneurship program

Twelve entrepreneurial-minded local college students are in the business of networking this summer in an on-campus pilot program called Dormcubator.

Rhode Island College student Katherine McPhillips, a senior communication major, was one of the students selected from the state’s 10 colleges and universities to participate in the six-week “live, work and learn” program.

Katherine McPhillips and other participants in the Dormcubator program discuss ideas for a new app for Rhode Island's college students.
Dormcubator is designed to establish greater links to corporate partners looking for a skilled workforce and to motivate more students to consider Rhode Island as an option after they graduate.

It is sponsored by bRIdge, an initiative of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AICU) of Rhode Island that works to connect academia, business and the community.

“Dormcubator 2011 is a student engagement/knowledge retention initiative to connect college students personally and professionally with their host communities,” said Patricia Mulcahey, associate director of AICU Rhode Island. “Research shows that students who feel connected to, and have created bonds with, their host communities are more likely to stay post-graduation.”

A central focus of the program is to provide input and support for the creation of the “The Rhode,” a bRIdge mobile application specifically for Rhode Island’s college students. The program also hopes to develop Dormcubator participants as future ambassadors for the bRIdge initiative.

“So far the program is going well,” said RIC’s McPhillips, who is from Central Falls. “We have been going on some field trips and meeting new people and expanding our networks. Last week we went to Newport to meet the USA sailing team.”

Dormcubator participants are housed at Snowden Hall on the downtown Providence campus of Johnson & Wales University, an experience McPhillips said she loves.

Twice a week in the evening, participants engage in entrepreneurial-themed activities. Over the course of the program, six nights will focus on social opportunities, and six will be career-oriented.

Activities are led by bRIdge partners, AICU Rhode Island, Cutler and Company, Betaspring, Collegia, Social Venture Partners Rhode Island (SVPRI), Rhode Island Entrepreneurial Faculty though the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RI-CIE), corporate partners and business deans and faculty from the colleges and universities.

McPhillips learned of Dormcubator when Liz Garofalo, RIC coordinator of community service learning, sent word of the program to Linda Kent Davis, the college’s director of the Career Development Center. Davis shared the information with McPhillips, who, as the program nears its halfway point, is continuing to enjoy the experience.

“It’s really fun,” she said, "and getting to know Providence in a different light is always interesting.”

McPhillips also said she would like to help “merge” the state’s college communities. “There aren’t any real rival schools around, and Rhode Island is such a small state, it’s a wonder why the schools aren’t closer already!”